A lackadaisical series also-ran with a poorly produced gimmick.



From the Sounds of Nature series

Profiles of 10 saltwater environments, with portraits of select wildlife and audio soundscapes.

Washing up in the wake of World of Forests (2019), this equally flaccid effort surveys, in no particular order, marine settings, including the depths of the Marianas Trench, a Cornish “rockpool,” and the fresh/saltwater mix of Florida’s Everglades. For each locale Grace and Hunter offer a general description, six to eight recognizable if not finely detailed images of local wildlife crowded together, and notes on sounds that each one might make. These are supposedly reproduced in a quick sequence of fragmentary and only rarely distinctive hoots, howls, scrapes, clicks, grunts, and splashes activated by pressing a designated spot on the page. The notes range from perfunctory filler (sea gulls have “lots of different calls”) to a bald claim that the crown of thorns starfish produces a ringing noise through “an electrical signal from its eyes” that really needs more explanation. Furthermore, the animals are not drawn to scale, and land dwellers such as the poison dart frog (included in a spread about Brazilian coastal waters) and the Sumatran tiger (Indonesian island waters) are, at best, outliers in a cast of marine creatures. The sound chip is powered by three replaceable button batteries; there is no on/off switch.

A lackadaisical series also-ran with a poorly produced gimmick. (Informational novelty. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-793-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.


In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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